Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Adds 12 New Members to Scientific Council

Posted: September 28, 2017

NEW YORK CITY (September 28, 2017)—The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has named 12 new members to its Scientific Council, now comprised of 177 leading experts across disciplines in brain and behavior research. As the nation’s top non-governmental funder of mental health research, members of the Foundation’s voluntary Scientific Council review 1,200 grant applications each year and award grants to support scientists conducting cutting-edge research in order to understand, detect, treat, prevent and cure mental illness, which affects one in five people.

According to Herbert Pardes, M.D., founding and current President of the Scientific Council and Executive Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, since it was founded 30 years ago, the Foundation has awarded more than $379 million to fund over 5,500 grants to more than 4,500 scientists around the world, leading to over $3.5 billion in additional funding for these scientists.

“We are delighted to welcome a dozen of the world’s leading experts in their fields to assist the Foundation’s Scientific Council in selecting the best ideas in brain research,” said Dr. Pardes, who notes that in 2016, the Foundation awarded $19.1 million to Young Investigator, Independent Investigator and Distinguished Investigator Grantees.

“The Foundation is a driving force in advancing the understanding of mental illness, and we are able to do that thanks to the generosity of our donors and the dedication of our Scientific Council members. Over the past 30 years, they have reviewed more than 25,000 grant applications,” noted Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., President and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

The new members of the Scientific Council are Carrie E. Bearden, Ph.D., UCLA; Antonello Bonci, M.D., National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH); Edward Thomas Bullmore, Ph.D., University of Cambridge; Tyrone D. Cannon, Ph.D., Yale University; Z. Jeff Daskalakis, M.D., Ph.D., Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Kelvin Lim, M.D., University of Minnesota; Stephen Maren, Ph.D., Texas A&M; Victoria Risbrough, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego; Laura M. Rowland, Ph.D., University of Maryland; Vikaas Sohal, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco; Flora M. Vaccarino, M.D., Ph.D., Yale University; and Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, M.D., Columbia University.

The Foundation’s Scientific Council includes two Nobel Prizewinners; two former directors and the current director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH); four recipients of the National Medal of Science; 13 members of the National Academy of Sciences; 27 chairs of psychiatry and neuroscience departments at leading medical institutions; and 52 members of the Institute of Medicine.

“The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is always a critical source of private funding and especially at a time when future prospects of government funding for scientific research are uncertain,” says Dr. Pardes. “It offers scientists opportunities to conduct important, novel and clinically relevant studies that are not being funded through the traditional NIMH mechanisms because of a shortage of money and, in some cases, risk aversion.”

Funding for grants are focused in four primary areas: basic research to understand what happens in the brain to cause mental illness; new technologies to advance or create new ways of studying or understanding the brain; next generation therapies to reduce symptoms of mental illness and, ultimately, cure and prevent brain and behavior disorders; and diagnostic tools/early intervention.

The Foundation’s successful model helps scientists throughout their careers: Young Investigator Grants support scientists at the advanced post-doctoral or assistant professor (or equivalent) level for up to $35,000/year for two years; Independent Investigator Grants, provide $50,000 per year for two years during the critical period between the initiation of research and the receipt of sustained funding; and Distinguished Investigator Grants support scientists at the full professor (or equivalent) level for up to $100,000 for one year.

While scientists can often receive several Foundation grants, the grants make the largest impact in the career of young scientists: recipients of Young Investigator grants received an average of 11 to 19 times the original grant amount in subsequent funding.

2017 New Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council Members on: Why They Agreed to Join the Scientific Council

“I am particularly honored to join the Scientific Council because the Foundation was essential for launching my career as an independent scientist. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that first Young Investigator grant gave me, and am excited to play a larger role in the society that had faith in me ‘way back when.”

Carrie E. Bearden, Ph.D.

“I'm honored to serve the Foundation because I've admired for many years the Foundation’s extraordinary work and commitment toward helping scientists.”

Antonello Bonci, M.D.

“I joined the Council because I believe in the mission of BBRF, and think BBRF does a great job in funding mental health research that is generally under-funded in proportion to the level of unmet clinical need. I was attracted to serve alongside the outstanding clinicians and scientists already on Council.”

Edward Thomas Bullmore, Ph.D.

“I agreed to join the Scientific Council because I am committed to the field of psychiatric disorders and to the development and promotion of junior investigators, and the BBRF contributes substantially to these goals through its research awards programs.”

Tyrone D. Cannon, Ph.D.

“The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation is one of the most coveted and valued awards for any investigator in the field of psychiatry and neuroscience. The Foundation’s impact on our field is remarkable and as a previous award winner, there is no greater privilege than to be able to reciprocate the Foundation’s generous support by serving on the Scientific Council with some of the greatest luminaries in our field.”

Z. J. Daskalakis, M.D., Ph.D., FRCP(C)


“I am honored to join the Foundation’s Scientific Council. The Foundation serves a critical role in launching new investigators and catalyzing new research ideas. I know this first hand; my first grant was a Young Investigator Award which was critical to launching my research career. I am delighted to be able to directly support the mission of the Foundation.”

Kelvin Lim, M.D.

 “It is an honor to join the Foundation Scientific Council to help serve its mission to support the most promising research on the biological basis of mental disorders. I have no doubt that these efforts will go a long way to relieve the burden that mental illness levies on afflicted individuals, their families, and society at large.”

Stephen Maren, Ph.D.

“Receiving a Young Investigator Award was a major catalyst for me to start my career in PTSD research, and has continued to be so for my trainees. The Foundation is a cornerstone for the neuropsychiatric discipline in nurturing the next generation of scientists that are developing innovative and transformative research programs. I am honored to give back to the foundation that gave me ‘a leg up’ and encouragement at a critical juncture of my career.”

Victoria Risbrough, Ph.D.

“Finding cures for mental illness is incredibly important to me both personally and professionally. Having an opportunity to work with leaders in the field to identify the most promising new directions is an incredible opportunity for me to contribute to this enterprise and keep informed about the most cutting edge research. I have benefited from a Foundation grant in the past, and it played a critical role in helping my lab get off the ground. So, I now I look to helping this organization carry on this essential work.”

Vikaas Sohal, M.D., Ph.D.

“I have been helped by the Foundation in the crucial transition between training and independence. I would like to contribute to the continued effort of the Foundation to help meritorious scientists studying the biological basis of neuropsychiatric disorders in their career trajectory. “

Flora Vaccarino, M.D., Ph.D.

“I am excited to join the Scientific Council because the Foundation supports early investigators who are often pursuing the first project that is truly their own idea, including support that I was fortunate to have early in my career. This support is critical to launching the next generation of researchers who will tackle the challenging problem of how changes in brain development and function lead to mental illness. This unique niche protects junior investigators during this time when we are in an ongoing funding crisis for scientific research in general and for mental health research (and treatment) in particular.”

Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, M.D.

About the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

For the past 30 years the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has been committed to alleviating the suffering of mental illness by awarding grants that lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research. The Foundation funds the most innovative ideas in neuroscience and psychiatry to better understand the causes and develop new ways to treat brain and behavior disorders. These disorders include addiction, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Since 1987, the Foundation has awarded more than $379 million to fund more than 5,500 grants to more than 4,500 leading scientists around the world. This has led to over $3.5 billion in additional funding for these scientists. The Foundation is also dedicated to educating the public about mental health and the importance of research, including the impact that new discoveries have on improving the lives of those with mental illness, which will ultimately enable people to live full, happy and productive lives. For more information, visit